MATERNAL NUTRITION AND MULTIPLE MICRONUTRIENT SUPPLEMENTATION “Leaving NO Woman Behind”
by Elizabeth Alonge
Deficiencies of micronutrients such as Vitamin A, Iron, Iodine, and Folate are particularly common among pregnant women due to increased nutrient requirements of the mother and developing foetus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that Multiple Micronutrient Supplementation (MMS) should be given to pregnant women from populations with a high prevalence of maternal nutritional deficiencies. Most pregnant women in Africa are at risk of poor nutritional status and adverse outcomes as a result of poverty, food insecurity, frequent infections, and frequent pregnancies.
There is clear and consistent evidence from clinical trials that Multiple Micronutrient Supplementation (MMS) which contains 15 vitamins and minerals including Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) is efficacious, safe, cost-effective, and an affordable intervention that is more effective than IFA supplementation alone.
Improved maternal nutrition can help ensure that women have healthy pregnancies and their children are born healthy. Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplementation has long been a part of the antenatal services provided to pregnant women but they are not the only micronutrient that pregnant women need. Compared to IFA, MMS reduces the risk of stillbirth, child death, and low birth weight.
It is imperative to put MMS on the antenatal care agenda and support governments to lead policy change and increase resources for maternal nutrition including MMS. Local production of high-quality and affordable MMS products should be encouraged. Plans and policies must also be in place to increase the capacity of frontline workers on maternal nutrition interventions such as MMS and nutrition counseling for pregnant women.
Child Health Advocacy Initiative(CHAI) and other partners are working at the country level to promote the MMS agenda and facilitate the uptake in Nigeria. CHAI is a member of the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies (HMHB) consortium and the focus of the consortium is to bring together stakeholders to raise awareness, trigger policy change, and accelerate the adoption of MMS.
Through determination and commitment, we can all ensure that “no woman is left behind”. Women everywhere must have access to critical nutrition services and antenatal care so they can give their babies a healthy start in life.
About Child Health Advocacy Initiative (CHAI)
Child Health Advocacy Initiative (CHAI) is an initiative of BASICS 11 United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The focus of CHAI is to promote healthy living and child survival in Nigeria. We work with the federal, state, and local governments, along with local and international organizations to tackle maternal and child health issues in Nigeria.
Elizabeth Alonge is the ED OF CHAI and the current United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition champion for Nigeria (SUN). She also spends her time as a consultant with USAID, and an advocate for Save the Children International.
Learn more about CHAI: www.chai.org.ng